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Missouri considers full texting while driving ban

Posted at 11:13 PM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 00:13:43-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With Missouri still one of only three states without a full texting while driving ban, state leaders will consider a proposal this year that could possibly save more lives.

Jacque Tierce learned of the tragic consequences last year when her daughter, Danielle Delgado Garcia, was involved in a fatal crash.

“She was driving to work and was on Snapchat,” she said. “She rear-ended the back of a semi. She didn’t brake and she didn’t even see the semi.”

In pictures shared with 41 Action News, Danielle’s car is seen heavily damaged and with its front smashed in.

Months later, Tierce can still remember the last moments she shared with her daughter.

“They pulled her out of the ambulance and she just looked at me and said, ‘Mom, it hurts so bad,’” she said. “I got to tell her I love her before she passed away and before they flew her off.”

Last year’s accident took place in Kansas, where a full texting while driving ban is in place.

However, a proposal in the Missouri General Assembly this year hopes to prevent future similar tragedies from happening.

The bill, which was put forward by State Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R- Cape Girardeau), would make texting while driving illegal for any driver in the state regardless of their age.

Currently, the ban only applies to drivers 21 years old and younger.

Multiple law enforcement agents who spoke to 41 Action News said the ban can be tough to enforce.

According to KCPD statistics, zero citations were given out in 2018 in KCMO for texting while driving.

Meanwhile, Missouri State Highway Patrol numbers showed the following texting while driving citations across the state:

  • 2017 = 63 citations
  • 2016 = 76 citations
  • 2015 = 57 citations

Doug Horn, a personal injury attorney in the metro who represents families and victims impacted in distracted driving cases, said the potential ban could play a big role in making things safer on Missouri roads.

“I believe if we had a law in Missouri and we informed people of the law, we would see a significant difference,” he said. “We would see less fatalities and certainly we would see less serious injuries.”

While no direct correlation shows the impact of texting laws, stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show some of the safest states to drive in have the strictest distracted driving laws.

Arizona and Montana are the only other states that don’t have a full texting while driving ban.

Horn told 41 Action News that while he believed a ban would help make things safer on the roads, true progress starts with drivers.

“We all should be concerned about this,” he said. “We can no longer trust other drivers.”

Moving forward, Jacque Tierce hoped the proposal could help save more lives.

“It’s not worth it for anybody,” she said. “Cell phones are not that important. Whatever the text or phone call, it can wait.”

If passed, any driver found to be texting while driving would face a $50 fine or a $100 fine if in a school zone.